How the QSR market has performed and where chicken ranks in Australia

Geotech has a long history working with market-leading brands, like KFC, since the mid 1990’s. More recently, we have been supporting other chicken brands Nandos, Chicken Treat, Red Rooster & Oporto.

An interesting evolution in the market has seen a 360 degree turn in marketing the fried part of the chicken offering, with KFC in particular abandoning the health angle that was the driving force for the change from Kentucky Fried Chicken to “KFC” in 1991. In 2019, KFC went back in time with an all new “Drive Thru” only format, located in Newcastle, with the name Kentucky Fried Chicken prominently displayed.

The driving force behind some of these changes could be due to the introduction of Asian styled concepts, including brands like Gami Chicken that arrived in the mid 2000’s and more recently Belles Hot Chicken that feature fried chicken as a centrepiece of the menu. Even Australia’s oldest QSR chicken brand, Red Rooster, introduced fried chicken to its menu at select restaurants in 2021.

According to NPD Group’s latest foodservice trends report, chicken is now the second most popular food item in the QSR scene right next to burgers, with a 2.8% increase in traffic in the same period.

Millennials, aged 18 to 34 years old, reportedly consume 42% of chicken offerings in the broader foodservice industry.

The report noted that QSRs have always sold more chicken than the rest of the sector, with 36.6% of chicken servings consumption or 8.4% of the overall foodservice visits.

As more consumers are becoming health-conscious, there’s no doubt chicken is preferred more than beef as it’s healthier and lighter. Beef consumption by the millennials has dropped by 2.3% since 2017, and new research by Roy Morgan has named McDonald’s to be Australia’s most popular quick-service restaurant outlet for 2020.

Interestingly, the largest chicken brands in the USA outside of KFC (Chick fil- A, Popeyes and Wingstop), that have a combined 6,788 restaurants, have not indicated any plans to enter the lucrative Australian market.

New research by Roy Morgan has named McDonald’s to be Australia’s most popular Quick Service Restaurant outlet for 2020.

The American food chain led the fast-food brigade with 8.1 million customers chowing into a Macca’s meal last year.

The findings also revealed that fast-food outlets were the beneficiaries of last year’s mandatory lockdowns. Around 15.9 million Aussies aged 14+ ate takeaway from fast-food outlets each month during the pandemic, with quarantine seeing more people spending a considerable amount of time indoors.

This is up from 13.3 million (63.7%) in 2019 before anyone had heard of COVID-19, according to Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine.

“This represents significant growth on a year earlier but the trend of increasing patronage at fast food outlets has been consistent over the last few years. The impact of COVID-19 and keeping people at home for extended periods last year led to increasing usage of food-ordering services such as Uber Eats, Menulog, HelloFresh, Deliveroo and DoorDash,” she said.

“McDonald’s has been the market leader throughout this time and continues to hold its advantage with the ‘Golden Arches’ having over 8.1 million customers during 2020 well ahead of the second-placed Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) with 6.8 million.”

Interestingly, icons like Pizza Hut have slipped to the bottom of the list, beaten out by industry newcomers Guzman y Gomez and Grill’d.

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